There will be a new national championship in college men’s volleyball this season.
Coker announced it will play host to the inaugural Independent Volleyball Association Championship Tournament at the conclusion of the regular season in April.
This will be the first championship event in the history of college men’s volleyball for NCAA Division I-II teams competing as independents without a conference affiliation.
“We want to create a postseason tournament for all the schools in the country that don’t have the opportunity to play in a postseason,” tournament founder and Coker coach Eric Snyder said in an interview with Off the Block. “We are going to have a great postseason tournament. We are really excited about it.”
The field at the upcoming IVA Championship Tournament will feature three of the four current NCAA Division I-II independent programs — Alderson Broaddus, first-year program Lincoln Memorial and the host school Coker. There is a possibility of a fourth team being added to the tournament field, Snyder said.
The creation of this event, Snyder said, also has given his players additional motivation because they will get to play for a championship at the end of the season — just like every other team in a conference.
“It gives the guys something to look forward to. Everyone loves to play for a championship,” Snyder said. “This is exciting to be a part of something that is happening for the first time in history. I hope it takes off from here. Our goal is to run a great tournament and great event so it catches on. And hopefully it can grow from here.”
With the expansion of men’s volleyball at the Division II level, there has been in increase in recent years of teams competing without a conference affiliation.
The three teams in the tournament field and Concordia-Irvine are competing as independent teams this season. While Concordia-Irvine will join the MPSF next season, Queens for its inaugural season in 2018 is currently slated to compete as an independent.
Snyder said he is hopeful starting this tournament could one day lead to all the independent schools forming its own men’s volleyball conference.
In order for a conference to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament it most have a minimum of six teams. A new conference typically also must undergo a multiple-year waiting process before being granted an automatic bid.
The IVA Championship being established, Snyder said, could encourage more schools to start a Division I-II men’s volleyball program.
“To be able to go to schools in the country and say to athletic directors and presidents, we’re creating this tournament that is at a minimum cost for your teams and your programs if you create a men’s volleyball program to come and play,” the coach said. “It’s something that can also add an enhanced attraction for a lot of the athletics directors and presidents to create a men’s volleyball program.”
The IVA Championship will be a three-day event beginning April 7 in Hartsville, South Carolina. Along with the matches, the event will feature a youth volleyball clinic presented by USA Volleyball.
Among the supporters for the inaugural IVA Championship includes the AVCA, Molten and USA Volleyball.